ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of men, women and children of faith gathered in Sandtown Park on Bluff Street Friday to take part in the 10th annual “Stations of the Cross” procession. The event commemorates the journey of Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and is generally performed on “Good Friday” of the Christian Lenten season.
Christians of many denominations were on hand: Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Mormons and more came together to follow in the footsteps of their savior in a show of interfaith unity.
Carole Drake, director of stewardship and ministry formation for the St. George Catholic Church, said the Stations of the Cross is a way for Christians to form a closer connection to Jesus by following in his footsteps, stopping at each “station” to reflect on each of the events he encountered on his way to his crucifixion.
It’s an opportunity for all of our churches and ministries of faith to come together here in St. George at this time. We all are on different paths, we have different beliefs, but we come together in a sense of unity as we celebrate our diversity, that we can appreciate what has happened, what Jesus did for us, and what he does for us each and every day.
The Reverend Alex Wilkie has taken part in all 10 Stations of the Cross processions. The event shows that people of all faiths can come together despite their differences, he said, but it can also help strengthen those whose faith is not so strong.
“They may have not a really solid belief in the lord Jesus,” Wilkie said. “And sometimes just carrying the cross can solidify that feeling if you’re part of the cross.”
Steve Bray, chaplain at the Purgatory Correctional Facility, was participating in his third Stations of the Cross and said he appreciated seeing the expressions of love and kindness among the faithful in attendance.
“(I see) people that care, people that are caring, people that are friendly, all walking together, nobody’s in their group per se, they’re all mixed,” Bray said.
The parishioners began the procession at the first station in Sandtown Park and headed southwest along Diagonal Street, where a series of 13 more stations were set up, showing scenes from Jesus’ last walk. Between each station, the participants sang “Were You There.” At each station the procession stopped and a different faith leader spoke about the events of that particular station, followed by a prayer. The large wooden cross was carried by a different person between each point.
A St. George Police bicycle escort controlled traffic for the large crowd.
Eventually the procession turned south on N. 200 West for the final stations, and then gathered outside the St. George Catholic Church for a reading of the last occurrence, that of the resurrection. Then, with a last prayer, the Stations of the Cross was complete and the parishioners dispersed.
The Reverend Jimi Kestin said the show of solidarity among the many Christian faiths in attendance was what most participants enjoyed the most.
“When you see all of these different churches, all of these folks from so many parts of the Christian community coming together in a show of unity, on what is truly one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar, because this is the day that we remember and recognize the price that Jesus Christ paid for our salvation as he went to the cross,” Kestin said. “And to be able to do it together in Christian unity across denominational lines, I know brings a smile to our Lord’s face.”
By the end of the procession, Drake said she noticed participants were more engaged in this year’s event compared to others.
“I thought it was a very positive day today,” she said. “All of them have been that I’ve attended in the last four years but this one was just a little bit more special for some reason, and I think it had something to do with the people participating and where they are on their journeys of faith.”
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